Dissatisfied Taxi Drivers Envisage More Protests Unless Authorities Act

Traditional taxi drivers protesting against taxi mobile app Uber and similar taxi services (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, April 11 (TASR) – If the authorities don’t take action, the number of protests by taxi drivers in Bratislava will increase and a mass transport strike might follow as well, stated Matej Krampl, one of the organisers of a demonstration by taxi drivers in front of Bratislava City Hall on Tuesday aimed against taxi mobile app Uber and similar taxi services.

“We’re saying that this isn’t the last protest. We’ll go on, and it will escalate. This will happen more regularly. If they don’t act, we’ll express our disapproval in this way,” said Krampl, explaining that the protest is an appeal to the authorities and institutions to finally start addressing the issue.

Around 60 taxi drivers came out to express their dissatisfaction with the current situation. There are reportedly some 3,000 taxi drivers in the capital, however. According to the protesters, drivers working for various taxi applications and similar taxi services are violating legislation, but the authorities concerned tolerate this. There’s only one law, and it should apply to everyone equally – to taxi drivers as well as to Uber drivers, claimed the protesters.

“How is it possible that one group that has observed laws has been checked and another, which isn’t complying with laws, is ignored, and we pretend it doesn’t exist,” said Bratislava Taxi Drivers Union chief Ondrej Wenzl, adding that it’s unacceptable that the City of Bratislava is taking no action in this regard, claiming that it has no powers to do anything.

According to City of Bratislava spokesperson Zuzana Onufer, the authorities are aware of the need to address the issue, but at the moment they have no powers to take action. They can keep tabs on traditional taxi drivers via the city police, but they can’t do the same in the case of unmarked Uber drivers. Onufer went on to say that an amendment to the law on taxi services is necessary as well, but the Transport and Construction Ministry has shown no interest in this.

According to Uber spokesperson for Slovakia and the Czech Republic Miroslava Jozova, Uber drivers operate in line with EU directives and provide registered users of the platform with a reliable and safe service. The drivers are legally registered and have to meet their tax obligations.

Jozova pointed out that protests as well as attacks by traditional taxi drivers on Uber drivers only highlight the fact that the platform is becoming more and more popular.